Why the Transformation of State-owned Chinese Companies Will Take Time

China’s ‘new infrastructure’ plan has become a buzzword for attracting more players and investments. Even as plans are afoot to attract new companies, traditional state-owned companies, more popularly known as Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), are also keen to expand their role, so that they can catch up with the wave.

Since China’s reform and opening-up of the economy, CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has been striving to gradually allow the markets to play a decisive role in resource allocation, the situation in China’s state-owned companies is much more complex. Some big state-owned enterprises are entering the ICT market or considering to enter the market but things are not going well. Case in point – the acquisition of Global Switch by a Chinese consortium led by Chinese steel maker, Jiangsu Sha Steel Group.

Traditional Industry Faces Challenges

In the 2019 annual competitiveness ranking by World Steel Dynamics, five Chinese steel companies were among the top 50 companies.

The top Chinese steel maker is China Baowu’s Baoshan Iron and Steel Co Ltd (Bao Steel) which was ranked at No 15. It was followed by China Steel in Taiwan at 22, Anshan Iron and Steel Group Co Ltd (An Steel) at 24, Maanshan Iron and Steel Co Ltd (Ma’gang/ Ma Steel) at 31, and Jiangsu Shagang Co Ltd (Sha’gang/ Sha Steel) at 34.

As a key fundamental industry of the national economy, the steel industry, like other traditional industries, is facing challenges such as overcapacity, cost reduction, efficiency increase, energy conservation and emission reduction. Digitalization is the only way for the transformation and upgrade of the steel industry.

Bao Steel, the leader, is the first to have led the consolidation in the Chinese steel sector in the last decade, and has consistently expanded output through several mergers and acquisitions. In August 2000, Baosteel established a subsidiary called Bsteel which is fully owned by Baosteel to delegate its own e-business implementation and maintenance to a separate business unit. At the end of 2006, Bsteel transferred its ICT coding and development business to a similar company fully owned by Baosteel: Baosight (/Bao’Xin Soft). Baosight focuses on Baosteel’s internal ICT platform, ERP, production specific applications, ICT infrastructure operations and user support activities.

Now, Baosight has a bunch of data center facilities. Backed by the Baosteel group, Baosight enjoys significantly resources and cost discount, benefitting by the parent company’s extensive networks and partnerships. From October 2013, Baosight has completed the construction of Baozhiyun Phase I/II/III IDC project through a series of equity financing and self-financing in Baoshan District, Shanghai. The largest data center industrial base in Shanghai focuses mainly in wholesale business and then service outsourcing business (including maintenance and repair of information system, rail transit vehicle system control components, cloud computing operation service, IDC operation service) with an industrial scale of nearly 20,000 cabinets in 2018. The operating income has reached 1.29 billion Yuan at that time. In 2019, the fourth phase of Baozhiyun plans to add 9,000 cabinets so that the four phases of Baozhiyun reached total 27,500 cabinets. Besides, in 2019, the Wuhan Iron and Steel Big Data Industrial Park is set to be built with 18,000 cabinets in the following two years (Phase I: 2216 cabinets in 2019).

State-owned companies in steel industry has boosted a lot of initiatives to heighten its corporate competitiveness in the age of ‘big data’, steer its business direction to meet the market demands for information, and optimize the synergy between the traditional industry of steel manufacturing and the new industry of information technology. Despite the success of the transformation of Bao Steel, the other four Chinese steel giants are not going well when exploring new business.

Being a well-established enterprise in the steel manufacturing industry, Shagang (Sha Steel) has also committed to a business diversification to data and information technology since 2017. It became the controlling shareholder of Global Switch in 2019. Recently, the owners of Global Switch are exploring a sale that could value the London-based data center operator at 8 billion pounds ($10.9 billion) or more.

Challenges and Dilemma

From the time Deng Xiaoping unleashed market reforms in an effort to increase investments in China, the onus was always on the government to whole heartedly lead the investment symphony. The scenario continues till this date. Recently, China has begun rolling out its ‘new infrastructure’ campaign all around the nation, which provides an opportunity for all market players. Compared with the traditional infrastructure, the main force for the investment of the ‘new infrastructure’ are market players instead of the government. Favorable policies have been issued not only for domestic investors but also for foreign ones.

Now, China is working on expanding and opening up policies to foreign investment, even more.

Under the ‘New Infrastructure’ push, it seems that the strengths of state-owned companies are weakened (although still have great advantages especially in resources) and they are brought to the same starting point in the race with other players. The difference is that they have their own responsibilities and path to step forward.

‘New infrastructure’ is not a strong stimulus, but a new economic growth engine for China in the future, which also serves as the most active and productive driver that is full of opportunities for productivity factor optimization and potential improvement. As the new infrastructure is closely connected with the development of new technology, all state-owned enterprises need to achieve their industrial upgrading before they explore new fields.

Besides, in terms of investment, it involves new form to attract public investments. In the process of promoting the ‘new infrastructure construction’, more attention will be paid to explore the innovation of investment and financing mechanism, so as to further stimulate the enthusiasm of private investment, foreseeably through Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs.

Over years of development, the marginal utility and earnings of the traditional infrastructure decreases progressively. The ‘new infrastructure’, backed by technological innovation, will create jobs and increase earnings in a short period, and facilitate structural transformation and upgrading, thereby bringing along a sound economic development in the mid-and-long term.

Although the role of State-owned companies has been proved to be important in this economy as they have traditionally assisted the government in reforms, they face the challenges they never met before. Not to mention the state is encouraged to divest from other industries by decreasing its ownership.

With the geopolitical situation entering another new normal with the election of Joe Biden and the US President and a pandemic that still continues to hover, investment flows in the future will strongly depend on how age-old enterprises adapt in the post-COVID world. The sooner State enterprises realise this fact, the better.

For more insights on China, do check out our digital event China Datacenter Market Insights happening on March 5!

Will Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia fuel growth?

Global wireless technology services company Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia has gotten the thumbs up from its ecosystem partners who believe that it will drive business growth going forward.

On January 14, Qualcomm announced the acquisition of chipmaking company Nuvia for a jaw-dropping $1.4 billion.

At a time where the data center industry is seeing an unprecedented surge in demand due to the pandemic, major players in the chipmaking industry are making significant investments to increase their share in the chip manufacturing market.

Qualcomm’s bet on Nuvia, therefore, also shows the company’s determination to develop its own processors to power next-generation tech services such as 5G, which President and CEO Cristiano Amon sees as “significant opportunities for Qualcomm”.

In the past, Qualcomm has made around 4 dozen acquisitions and with Nuvia, it is looking to take on Intel, AMD and Apple.

“It’s exciting to see Nuvia join the Qualcomm team. Moving forward, we have an incredible opportunity to empower our customers across the Windows ecosystem,” said Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Microsoft. “With Nuvia joining the Qualcomm team, we look forward to continuing to innovate and building incredible experiences together. Qualcomm’s commitment to platform technology will help us offer premium smartphone performance to our users around the world,” stated ΤM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics.

Another partner, Google, pointed out that compute performance, connectivity and power efficiency are critical ingredients that make the billions of Android and Chrome OS devices shine. According to Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP Platforms & Ecosystems, Google, the addition of Nuvia extends Qualcomm’s capabilities in these three areas and it is exciting to see the next generation of Snapdragon with Nuvia.

The acquisition of Nuvia will enable Qualcomm to continue to advance Snapdragon’s industry leadership and help Acer to continue to innovate and bring high performance, 5G connected devices to our customers globally,” said James Lin, General Manager, Notebooks, IT Products Business, Acer Inc. S.Y. Hsu, co-CEO of ASUS, pointed out that it is excited for the future of our partnership as Qualcomm advances and expands its portfolio and capabilities with the addition of Nuvia.

Bullish on auto sector

It is not the tech partners who seem to be bullish over Qualcomm’s acquisition. Qualcomm’s partner, Bosch, considers the adoption of new in-vehicle services and capabilities as one major driver for growth. “We see the need for high performance, power efficient platforms and appreciate Qualcomm’s ambition to push the boundaries of innovation even further,” said Dr. Andree Zahir, SVP for Infotainment and Connectivity at Bosch. Masashige Mizuyama, Chief Technology Officer, Automotive Company, Panasonic Corporation agrees. “Innovation in the automotive market is occurring at an accelerated pace,” he said.

Peter Popp, Head of Purchasing in Vehicle Networking and Information at Continental is of the view that with the addition of Nuvia it is looking to bring advanced capabilities to next generation vehicles.

“We look forward to Nuvia joining the Qualcomm team as we continue to work together to deliver advanced in-vehicle services and technologies for the customers of our next-generation vehicles,” said Dan Nicholson, VP, Global Electrification, Controls, SW Electronics at General Motors.

The addition of the Nuvia team will enable Qualcomm to continue to consolidate compute and connectivity ECUs into high performance, power efficient platforms to push the boundaries of innovation even further, highlighted Jin-Yong Kim, President of Vehicle components Solutions (VS) Company, LG Electronics Inc.

Nuvia: A two-year old billion dollar baby

Qualcomm’s move to acquire Nuvia for a staggering $1.4 billion is due to the credentials of the company’s founders. Gerard Williams III, John Bruno, and Manu Gulati are former engineers at Apple, where they were involved in designing Apple’s iconic A-series chips that power the iPhone and iPad.

With this acquisition, the three co-founders and their employees will be joining Qualcomm. “CPU performance leadership will be critical in defining and delivering on the next era of computing innovation,” said Williams.

Around 60% of global firms ready for digital transformation: Capgemini Research

Nearly, two thirds of organizations today have digital and leadership capabilities required to successfully implement digital transformation. According to Digital Mastery 2020: How organizations have progressed in their digital transformations over the past two years–a new report by the Capgemini Research Institute, around 62 per cent of the organizations believed they were capable of digital transformation and have the leadership capabilities to do so, an increase from 36 per cent in two years.

In May and June 2020, the Capgemini Research Institute surveyed 1,000 executives from organizations with at least $1 billion in revenue across sectors to gauge their views on the maturity of their organization’s digital and leadership capabilities required for digital transformation. Twenty per cent of the organizations reported revenue of more than $20 billion in FY 2019.

Large organizations, with $10 billion or more in revenue, have been found to have an edge in both digital and leadership capabilities. Some 68 per cent of these organizations say they have the required digital capabilities, compared with 55 per cent of those with less than $10 billion in revenue. When it comes to leadership capabilities the gap is similar: 57 per cent of smaller organizations say they have the required leadership capabilities, marginally lower than the overall average of 62 per cent and the 70 per cent seen among large organizations.

To understand how organizations progressed their digital capabilities in the past two years, Capgemini examined average ratings across four categories: talent and organization, operations, business model innovation, and customer experience (CX). Capgemini’s 2020 research, in comparison with its 2018 research on digital mastery, found that while all organizations are doing better in their digital transformation journeys in 2020, digital masters – organizations with a high level of mastery across digital and leadership capabilities – are widening the gap with their competitors.

COVID-19 has been a powerful accelerator, and, given the urgency for change, organizations have become more enthusiastic and optimistic about the maturity of their capabilities. Alongside this, organizations have taken time since 2018 to evaluate the challenges that stand in the way of success, increasing their investment in digital transformation and their adoption of emerging technologies and putting a renewed focus on talent and culture.

From a sector perspective, every industry has progressed in both its digital and leadership capabilities in the past two years, the research said. Retail now surpasses all other sectors, with 73 per cent of retail organizations saying they have the digital capabilities required for transformation, up from 37 per cent two years ago.

After retail, the telecom sector follows with 71 per cent of organizations saying they have the digital capabilities required. Telecom operators are reshaping the consumer value proposition by creating full-fledged digital experiences. The automotive sector leads in terms of capability growth, having increased its digital capabilities to 69 per cent per cent from 32 per cent in 2018.

Talent and culture determinants

Capgemini’s 2018 research had revealed that the people dimension was a significant barrier to digital transformation, as organisations failed to bring employees along in the transformation journey. However, more organizations today involve employees in their digital initiatives: 63 per cent in 2020, up from 36 per cent in 2018.

Despite this progress, when it comes to skill building, Capgemini found less than half of organizations (48 per cent) are investing in building soft skills such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, and collaboration. Capgemini’s research also consistently found that culture is a top barrier to successful digital transformation, with some organizations, for example, not having a culture where new ideas and experimentation are valued.

Accelerating investments in sustainability

The report highlights that while organizations must keep their eye on factors such as customer experience, operations and business technology, they should also place emphasis on sustainability and their broader purpose, which has become important for customers and employees alike. Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental footprint and climate change impact and want to make a difference with their actions – 78 per cent of consumers agree that companies have a larger role to play in society beyond their self-interests. Interestingly, research found that currently only 45 per cent of organizations are accelerating sustainability investments, projects, and commitment.

To advance their digital transformation journey further, the report recommends that organizations reinvent the employee experience, leveraging the fluid workforce and ensuring employees’ social contracts align with the digital age. In addition, they should build robust data and platform capabilities, scale new business and engagement models and embed purpose and sustainability as a core part of the business, making it part of the organizational culture and viewing technology from the twin aspects of digital transformation and sustainability.

The progress made in building the necessary digital and leadership capabilities in just two years is striking which led us to undertake this research. The continued rapid pace of technology innovation and business model disruption over the past two years – with COVID-19 forcing many companies to reinvent themselves – has possibly driven this advancement,”said Claudia Crummenerl, Managing Director, People and Organization at Capgemini Invent.

“While organizations have progressed on a wide variety of measures across areas such as customer experience, operations, business and technology, many are still challenged to incorporate purpose and sustainability into their transformation strategies. By reinventing the employee experience and ways of working, embedding purpose into the operating model, truly becoming a data-powered enterprise, and scaling new business models beyond the pilot stage, organizations can attain digital maturity and demonstrate the resilience required to adapt to future uncertainties,” Crummenerl added.

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How China’s Data Center Industry is Likely to Shape Up in 2021

The year 2021 could be termed as a “Year of Renewal”. The world is still in chaos with continuing uncertainties, while at the same time rapidly accelerating and transforming.

As a distinct growth pole of global economy, China’s rapid recovery from the Covid-19 has been commendable. Since the last two decades, it has benefited from fast economic growth, and the country has stood out in the developing world for its unique strengths in its market size, diversity and vitality.

Moreover, with the renewed emphasis on infrastructure in its Five-Year Plan and long-term strategy as well as the new policies boosted to empower the digital economy, new infrastructure development and significant increase in demand for data center is being seen on the ground. Case in point- the undersea data center in Zhuhai.

New Infrastructure Push

Fueled by a surge in demand for local demand for digitalization of business and consumer environment, the construction of new infrastructure including 5G and data centers has developed into a strategy, which enables it to meet the twin urgent goals of increasing employment and preparing for new changes in the global economy.

At the 2020 National People’s Congress, the CCP first emphasizes a digital infrastructure public spending programme. Now, building ‘new infrastructure’ has already become a top development priority for China. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, China has witnessed the potential of cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing.

Several tech giants in China have announced plans to scale up their data centers. Following China’s ‘new infrastructure’ initiative, Chinese internet giant Tencent revealed its $70 billion investment on key sectors over the next five years towards making advances in cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) while Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba announced to invest $28.7 billion into its cloud and data center infrastructure over the next three years. Also, Baidu, the leading search engine in China, has planned to set up 5 million servers in the next 10 years.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) it is!

The National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NDRC) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) jointly issued the ‘Notice Concerning Work in Relation to Advancing Infrastructure Real Estate Investment Trust Trials’ in April, with an aim to channelise personal savings and private capital into infrastructure projects.

Then in August, NDRC announced that it had recently issued the ‘Notice Concerning Effectively Performing Infrastructure REIT Trial Project Application Work’, which indicates that the Chinese government will give priority to “national key strategic” infrastructure projects when receiving applications for REIT trials, as well as “encourage the undertaking of trials for new forms of infrastructure.”

The Notice further indicates that “national key strategic” infrastructure projects will include those associated with regional development plans for the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji) area, Xiong’an New Area in Hebei province, the Yangtze River Delta, the Greater Bay Area, and the Hainan Free Trade Port.

As per this new initiative, China expedites infrastructure REITs so that fresh capital could be converted into investment capital in the long term while reducing leverage. Dozens of companies have begun preparing for launching publicly tradable REITs since the trial released. However, the applications are still under consideration as the requirements are very strict.

In the next three to five years, such products are likely to provide about 6 trillion Yuan (around $900 billion) in financial support for China’s infrastructure construction, thus further improving the speed and efficiency of China’s infrastructure build out.

New Area

This is closely linked to new development and is being framed in new ways. ‘New Area’ has rocketed to ubiquity, especially when we consider the site selection. Government influence may steer investors’ location preferences here in China.

To promote urbanization and industrialization, and now digitalization, many new areas and zones have been established to concentrate investments and the labor force as well as resources within designated region with more flexible management systems.

For example, Xiong’an New Area, in Hebei province, was announced to be a National New Area as the “Millennium Plan, National Event” by the State Council and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. It has become the third new special zone with “national significance” after Shenzhen SEZ and Shanghai Pudong New Area while the other two have already driven the rapid development of the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta respectively. Xiong’an New Area connects the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road with the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, so as to drive the development of the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei economic triangle in Northern China.

Currently, China is speeding up its digital transformation of economy with a plan to build industrial ‘big data’ centers nationwide, enabling massive amounts of information to be used for developing more efficient industries. Supported by government, construction of data center is boosted in these regions such as the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji) area, Xiong’an New Area, the Yangtze River Delta, the Greater Bay Area, and the Hainan Free Trade Port.

Power Usage Efficiency (PUE)

The word ‘PUE’ never loses its power. The availability and cost of electricity are important factors influencing data center site selection in China. The energy consumption quota of data centers must be approved by governmental agencies including National Economy and Informatization Commission and National Development and Reform Commission.

Electricity resources in coastal areas and tier I cities are restricted as local electricity generation is insufficient to meet consumption, meaning that obtaining approval for large energy consuming businesses can be problematic.

In order to ensure effective control of energy consumption, improving energy efficiency in major energy fields and accelerating the application of energy-saving and low-carbonizing technologies have become the main goals and tasks of local government during the 13th Five-Year Plan period.

China’s Tier-1 cities, with their high concentrations of data centers and infrastructure, have been first to act, guided by the central government’s 13th Five Year Plan targets for energy use and intensity. Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have already applied strict PUE rules when approving new data centers, pushing the sector towards greener operations with higher energy efficiency.

Although Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and other coastal areas are the major data center markets in the country, areas like Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Guizhou pop up to be players under central policy support. National-level big data and data center pilot projects sprout up in these renewables-rich provinces for they offer ample electricity supply and cheap tariffs. Local governments in these areas also offer discounts for electricity consumption by data centers, which can further reduce operating costs.

Built-to-suit Data Center

Data center investment continues to rise in China with growing interest. Larger population bases, more social media activities, data protection and cyber security legislation forcing users to switch to onshore data centers. Does it mean that to invest in this market never fail? Of course not. The consensus of ‘Customer-centric’ is being embraced by players in China market.

As a part of this, ‘built-to-suit’ data center was developed. Customizing a data center, ‘built-to-suit’, is a much different, more challenging undertaking for a certain type of business buyer, or even specific client.

Different from before, one-size-fits-all data center solutions are no longer a priority at a larger scale. More data center service providers are looking to be in tune with clients from pre-development and align with their expectations.

At the same time, built-to-suit also provides a cost transparency and speed to market. As it is specifically designed to fit the clients’ every need, built-to-suit data center can meet the goals with best practices. In 2020, Dictionary.com selected “Unprecedented” as the word of the year. In 2021, it could be “Transformation”.

For more insights on China, do check out our digital event China Datacenter Market Insights happening on March 5!

India’s largest iron-ore miner goes digital with SAP

India’s state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), the country’s largest iron-ore producer, has implemented a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution from software company SAP.

This means that NMDC’s end-to-end business processes will be consolidated under the ERP, leading to an improvement in operational efficiency.

As such, various business areas and departments in the NMDC, including Production, Procurement, Finance, and Human Resources Management will be scaled with increased administrative ease. This will lead to an overall improvement in customer satisfaction, according to company executives.

“NMDC has always been at the forefront in enhancing economic & social values and simultaneously focusing on optimum utilisation of resources by adopting latest technological initiatives. The ERP will place NMDC in a different league in the mining sector,” said Sumit Deb, Chief Managing Director of NMDC.

Amitava Mukherjee, Director of Finance at NMDC, pointed out that the organisation’s decision to integrate illustrates NMDC’s commitment to upholding company transparency and preparing for future digital initiatives.

The Indian mining industry has been a laggard when it comes to using tech and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for Digital India, effort are on to embrace digital holistically.

The country’s mining sector is expected to see a flurry of action this new year with the central government’s approvals for pending mining reforms, expected in January itself and efforts continuing to bolster overall mineral output.

The reforms will pave the way for auctioning of at least 500 mineral blocks, Mines Secretary Anil Kumar Jain told PTI and emphasised that calendar year 2021 will be a “bridge year between the past and the future”.Among mining companies, NMDC is expected to stand out with 91 per cent year-on-year growth in EBITDA or Earnings Before Interest Tax Depreciation and Amortisation, according to Edelweiss Research.

TAC Security to foray into other markets outside India

TAC Security, an Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) empanelled information security organisation, is taking it’s new dark web threat intelligence solution, ESOF-DarkSec, to markets abroad.
This is an effort to address the growing demand for Cyber Security solutions and also add impetus to TAC Security’s global expansion plans . ESOF-DarkSec will be rolled out, to begin with in the North American market where it has a strong footprint and in the African market where it commenced operations. The company is further expanding operations in the Australian and European markets as well.

ESOF-DarkSec helps enterprises detect, measure, and identify the type of data available on the dark web about their companies.   “Data confidentiality has always been an issue for enterprise security teams, and the recent increases in the dark web exposure cases are intimidating for both governments and organizations. Cybersecurity threats are becoming more sophisticated with every passing day, and even more so during the COVID-19 outbreak where spear-phishing is being used as a tool to access critical data. We hope that the product will help inform business entities about the vulnerabilities of their infrastructure so they can secure their endpoints and networks against potential threats.” Chris Fisher, Chief Marketing Officer, TAC Security.

The launch is aligned with the rising number of data leaks on the dark web, which jeopardize sensitive information of government, businesses, and individuals alike. This cloud-based solution helps find the size, nature, and recent update (if any) of the leaked data on the darknet. ESOF-DarkSec also provides a dark web organization risk score on a scale from 0 to 10, so security teams can know the risk to the organization on available data in the dark web from and take action to mitigate the risk. The solution is available as a subscription plan in three tiers: Basic, Platinum, and Premium, with different price points based on deeper periodic scans.

Trishneet Arora, Founder and CEO of TAC Security said, “Data is the biggest asset for any entity in the current landscape. As much as it gives precious insights into enhancing customer experience, any unauthorized access to it can cause severe damage to personal, enterprise-level, or even national integrity, depending upon the nature of data. It is very difficult to get this data down once it enters the dark web. Knowing the extent of the dark web threat is pivotal as it enables an organization to analyze and limit the damages by taking preventive measures.”

TAC Security protects Banks and Financial Institutions, governments’ organisations, Fortune 500 companies, leading enterprises data around the world. TAC Security manages 5 million vulnerabilities through its Artificial intelligence (AI) based Vulnerability Management Platform ESOF. The company is also responsible for End to End Security Assessment of 200 UPI based Mobile Application for NPCI, an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

You can deep dive into cyber security and its various dynamics during W.Media’s Digital Week 2021, from February 23-26. Do check it out at https://w.media/digital-events/

Cognizant to acquire Servian, an Australian data and analytics consulting firm

Cognizant will acquire Servian, a Sydney-based, private enterprise transformation consultancy specializing in data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital services, experience design and cloud.

Servian is Cognizant’s 10th digital-focused acquisition announced since January 2020, showing Cognizant’s strategy to accelerate capabilities and growth in priority areas of data and artificial intelligence, digital engineering, cloud, and Internet of Things across the globe, the company said.  Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Cognizant expects the acquisition of Servian to expand its integrated, end-to-end digital transformation capabilities in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) to help clients move to the cloud, build digital products and services, unlock value from data, modernize enterprise applications, and achieve operational efficiency.

“Enterprises in Australia and New Zealand are at an inflexion point in their digital adoption,” said Jane Livesey, CEO, Cognizant Australia and New Zealand. “Cognizant’s extensive digital expertise combined with Servian’s strengths as the premier technology partner in the region will open up the full power of digital transformation for our Australasian clients. We look forward to welcoming Servian’s talented digital-native professionals to Cognizant.”

“Enabling clients to leverage their data assets for accelerating business transformation and driving competitive advantage is at the heart of our success,” said Tony Nicol, Founder and CEO, Servian. “We share Cognizant’s passion for innovation powered by digital technologies. With Cognizant’s deep industry expertise and global scale, we will be able to apply our strengths in strategic advisory, engineering delivery, and managed services across an even broader spectrum of challenges and opportunities presented by the digital economy.”

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory clearance and other closing conditions.

Mindset launches India Subsidiary

Minnesota headquartered Mindset, a global leader in the delivery of UX and experience-driven software and solutions built for the SAP platform, announced its Indian subsidiary, Mindset Experience India Private Limited. 

This move is a part of Mindset’s ongoing vision of building increasingly strong SAP capabilities in the region, the company said in a statement. The Mindset in India team will be located in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

“Our expansion to India will help Mindset in achieving three key objectives,” said Mindset CEO, Gavin Quinn. “First it will provide greater global scale to our growing SAP S/4HANA practice. Next, it allows us to build a comprehensive world-class team in India that will provide end-to-end capabilities rather than simply being an offshore implementation and delivery wing. Finally, it will position us to better expand our business capabilities for our Asia Pacific customers.”

The India subsidiary will be led by Parvathy Sankar who has joined Mindset as the Managing Director (APJ) and Vice President of Product Strategy for Mindset. 

Parvathy Sankar, an MBA from IMD International Switzerland and an alumnus of NIT Trichy, joined Mindset in August 2020 following 21 plus years of experience across India, Germany, and Belgium. In her sixteen and half years at SAP, she led several strategic projects in various roles across R&D, HR, Solution and Product Management. Most recently, she was Senior Director for Strategic Projects in SAP S/4HANA Product Management and Co-innovation heading strategic projects in Product Management. Leveraging her broad experience in the SAP world, Parvathy will ensure successful growth of Mindset’s portfolio, with Mindset subsidiary in India as one of its key vehicles.

“After months of laying the groundwork it is very exciting to finally welcome our teams and share the news of the start of Mindset operations in India,” added Parvathy Sankar. “We start with a strong team that we plan to quadruple over the midterm. It’s a testimony to Mindset’s culture that all employees from our long term partner, Quality Ideas CyberTech Private Limited will join us as we start our journey in India. The Mindset team in India will be a seamless part of US Headquarters focusing on driving the value-add products of Mindset. We will, from India, bring Mindset’s state-of-art philosophy of design-centric and experience-based solutions to SAP customers around the world.”

An SAP Partner, Mindset is one of the leaders in innovation and design-centric enablement utilizing the next generation of the SAP development platform. Mindset is the provider of choice for leading organizations that rely on SAP to drive their businesses. Mindset’s solutions include Design, Custom Development, Implementation Services, Strategic Services and Managed Services utilizing SAP’s S/4HANA, Cloud, Fiori, IoT, EWM and Mobile platforms. Mindset’s Software Solutions include the Mindset App Analyzer for Fiori, Mindset’s TM Driver, and Mindset SafeTransport.  The company also provides SAP Experts for the full spectrum of SAP products.

Since 2010, Mindset has helped leading global organizations to leverage user experience (UX) and advanced development to meet today’s emerging business demands.

Are data centers still necessary in Southeast Asia’s cloud computing era?

Southeast Asia is moving into an era of cloud computing, with rapid growth bringing the market value to a staggering US$40.32 billion by 2025

With data centers often seen as a separate data center storage option to the cloud, this begs the question: Are data centers still necessary in Southeast Asia’s cloud computing era?

This year, we have already seen Nokia agree to migrate all its data centers, servers and software applications onto Google Cloud. And by next year, Cisco predicts cloud data center traffic will represent 95% of total data center traffic.

Migrating to cloud offers flexibility, fast innovation, third party maintenance and on demand scalability for businesses looking to digitally transform without the need to maintain their own server room or wait to continuously add more servers into a traditional data center.

But it is a myth to think that data centers won’t be necessary in a cloud computing future. After all, the third party cloud providers will need somewhere to store all your data.

That’s why the number of hyperscale data centers is expected to reach 628 globally by 2021, compared to 541 this year.

“All cloud computing in the ecosystem requires data centres as a fundamental infrastructure. As more and more data are being produced every day in the age of digital transformation, physical data center infrastructure is required to support this growth. Without data centers, cloud computing on a national or regional scale is impossible,” said Supparat Singhara Na Ayutthaya, the Chief Executive Officer at ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (Thailand).

Whether you’re using Google Cloud in Indonesia, AWS in Singapore, or Microsoft Azure in Malaysia, these public cloud providers will need to create availability zones or build data centers in the country to meet the varying data localisation and protection laws and regulations.

“Each country in Southeast Asia has its own laws and regulations to comply with. Understanding the laws and regulations of the local market is the very first step prior to market analysis. Subsequently, customers need to ensure that their data center operators have a global track record in designing, constructing and operating state-of-the-art, carrier-neutral data centres and are attuned to the needs of end users,” added Mr.Singhara.

ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (Thailand) are building Bangkok’s first hyperscale data center campus in response to the country’s growing digital requirements for connectivity, low latency and data processing.

Many data center operators do not see cloud providers as their competitors, rather they can be their customers, as the demand for hybrid cloud solutions is exponentially growing to meet the needs for users who are looking for the advantages of cloud coupled with the hardware customisability, control and greater compliance offered by on-premise data center infrastructure.

“We don’t feel that Princeton Digital Group competes with cloud service providers, rather they are our customers,” said Stephanus Tumbelaka, Princeton Digital Group’s Managing Director of Indonesia.

In fact, the entry of cloud providers into emerging markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam can mean positive growth opportunities for data center providers.

“Cloud providers have taken over 70% of new data center space in the Asia Pacific market recently. Cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft, Google are key data center buyers, while Chinese cloud providers such as AliCloud, Huawei, Tencent are matching up to leading American competitors in terms of their demand for data center space. These generate huge demand for both colocation space and dedicated hyperscale data centers for the cloud providers in this region. Having cloud providers as tenants is definitely a key target for data center colocation providers,” said Chang Cho, CEO at ONION software and ONION technology. 

“We see it as a positive sign when cloud organisations start to enter the market because it actually means the market is going to move, not just for them, but for data center providers like ourselves,” said Carolyn Harrington, the Chief Operating Officer of SpaceDC.

All organisations have different needs and fast-growing data consumption, so with digital infrastructure options like public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, multicloud, traditional data centers, colocation data centers, edge data centers, hyperconverged infrastructure and more, these organisations have greater choice and opportunity to digitally grow their business.

And with increasing accessibility of high data consuming technologies like cloud computing, 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, data centers of all kinds will be crucial to enable the next wave of digital transformation.

That’s why the Southeast Asia data center market will be one of the fastest growing, with a compound annual growth rate of up to 14% at a value of US$3.5 billion or more.

 

Interested in learning more about Data Centers? Join us at Digital Week: Southeast Asia, where we’ve gathered ASEAN’s best and brightest to cover everything from datacenter deployment to digital banking. This 4-day virtual conference will enable you to network with 7000+ Senior IT Leaders across the Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnamese, Philippines, and Thailand markets.

Registration is open–Join the conversation today!

Reserve Bank of India launches Digital Payments Index

In what could be a first of its kind initiative, India’s banking regulatory body Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.

The RBI-DPI comprises 5 broad parameters that enable measurement of deepening and penetration of digital payments in the country over different time periods.

These parameters are

(1) Payment Enablers – which carry a 25% weightage

(2) Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors, which carry a 10% weightage

(3) Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors, which carry a 15% weightage

(4) Payment Performance, which carry a 45% weightage and

(5) Consumer Centricity, which carry a 5% weightage

Each of these parameters have sub-parameters which, in turn, consist of various other measurable indicators.

The RBI-DPI has been constructed with March 2018 as the base period. What this means is that DPI score for March 2018 is set at 100. The DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 work out to 153.47 and 207.84 respectively, indicating appreciable growth. Going forward, RBI-DPI shall be published on RBI’s website on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of 4 months.

This development needs to be seen in the backdrop of a surge in digital payments adoption post the Indian government’s demonetisation push in 2016. A recent KPMG report in August 2020 pointed out that going forward card payments will rise significantly mainly driven by contactless transactions, as a result of COVID-19. Further mobile wallets, payment gateway transactions and online bill payments through Bharat Bill Payments (BBPS) will rise significantly. For October, bill payments jumped 58 per cent to 23.7 million with almost $533 million worth of transactions digitally.

Further, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) saw a massive increase in adoption. It has almost doubled in 2020 both in terms of volume and value. UPI saw its growth being driven by larger adoption of digital payments across categories, along with its usage in QR code-based payments. Further the launch of UPI 2.0 has helped open up new use cases on the platform and has managed to set itself up as a default P2P payment mode.

You can glean more insights on Digital Payments during W.Media’s Digital Week 2021, from February 23-26. https://w.media/digital-events/

PLDT to install two fiber landing stations in 2021

Philippine conglomerate PLDT has announced plans to install two cable landing stations to increase network connectivity in the country.

The company will be executing the project via its telecommunications subsidiary, Smart Communications. 

Exact locations of the new cable landing stations have not been confirmed, but PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan assured that his company is making significant investments in the sector.

“I think that’s something a single fixed broadband operator cannot do. We can do that because we are using fiber, not only for fiber-to-the-home, but also for mobile and for enterprise customers,” Mr. Panglinan said.

PLDT already has three cable landing stations and at least two more are set for next year. These are intended to improve Smart’s wireless networks like LTE and 5G, as well as connections to their data centers.

The ongoing expansion work will eventually extend PLDT’s fiber footprint by 81,000 km, which will be 31,000km more than the amount in 2020, and 50,000km more than the amount in 2021.

PLDT’s efforts to connect more Filipinos

Aside from the new cable landing stations, earlier this month PLDT and Smart revealed their goal to increase broadband links in the Philippines from 72,000 links to 100,000 links a month.

According to local media reports, PLDT and Smart currently have the most extensive and advanced digital networks in the country, with a total of 395,000 kilometers in coverage. 

The new cable landing station will thus add to the conglomerate’s sizable network reach, providing greater connectivity for Philippine citizens.

“5G without fiber will not work, and therefore we have a high synergy between the various networks. In the last couple of years, we have deployed the strategy called ‘follow the fiber.’ Wherever there is fiber, we can connect any business, fiber-to-the-home, fiber-to-the-enterprise and fiber-to-the-base-station,” added Panglinan. 

PLDT and Smart are also part of a network of 16 international cable systems, including the recently announced high-performance submarine cable by international consortium Asia Direct Cable.

By Jie Yee Ong, Tech Reporter

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Mitratel and Pos Properti to develop digital infrastructure in Indonesia

Telecommunications company Mitratel and property management consultant Pos Properti have partnered to further develop digital infrastructure like ICT and IoT in Indonesia.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the state-owned enterprises, Miratel and Pos Properti will also work to support 5G readiness in the country.

“The signing of this memorandum of understanding opens the initiation of mutually beneficial strategic cooperation by utilising the potential, expertise and facilities owned by Mitratel and Pos Properti for infrastructure development and communication technology services in an effort to support 5G readiness in Indonesia,” said Teddy Hartoko, President and Director of Mitratel. 

The collaboration will include a feasibility study for the deployment of these technologies.

Indonesia’s digital transformation potential

As an emerging market in Southeast Asia, Indonesian corporations have been actively pursuing digital transformation strategies and partnerships to unlock the region’s tech potential. Huawei’s and Microsoft’s collaboration with the government are latest examples of international tech giants working to push the country towards greater digitalisation.

Mitratel currently has more than 22,000 cell towers in the country, and possesses expertise in important areas in IoT, including disaster management and smart monitoring. The collaboration is expected to benefit different industries that both companies are involved in, including businesses in economic, financial, legal, and operational sectors.

By Jie Yee Ong, Tech Reporter

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Sustainable data centers aren’t optional anymore

Excessive energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions are causing detrimental effects on our health and environment.

Data centers pump out millions of carbon pollution metric tons every year, consuming around 2% of the world’s electricity. And with the rise of cloud computing and large hyperscale data centers, these numbers will only continue to grow if we don’t focus on sustainability practises, as data and digital services increasingly become a necessity of life.

In only four years, colocation and wholesale data center capacity is projected to grow by 35.2%, exceeding 32 gigawatts of electrical power available to customer IT systems, which is similar to the total electricity needs of a country like Spain.

This is why more eyes are on the data center industry to lower their environmental impacts and answer to regulators, governments and the public, who are becoming more environmentally conscious than ever before.

Fortunately, Schneider Electric and 451 Research have found that 57% of data center service providers around the globe believe efficiency and sustainability will be highly important competitive differentiators in three years.

“Sustainability seems to be top of mind in data center circles at this moment in time. What was very, very clear was that sustainability really isn’t an option anymore,” said Paul Tyrer, the VP of Cloud and Service Provider Segment for APAC at Schneider Electric.

A large majority of the surveyed data center providers either said they have a strategic sustainability program in place to comprehensively improve the way they design, build and operate infrastructure (43%) or a major, but not comprehensive, sustainability program in place to improve some areas of design, construction and operations (41%).

“I think the fact that we’re talking about sustainability, and the fact that 43% of the respondents in our survey have actually got a comprehensive program, shows that we are most definitely on the right track and there is a desire for it,” said Mr. Tyrer.

Mr. Tyrer identified the data center industry has been on a sustainability journey for the last 10 years, with a predominant focus on increasing efficiency by lowering the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of the facilities and using less electrical energy.

“Has this always been done for sustainability reasons? No, it is done more for fiscal reasons. But we definitely stem the tide of exponential energy consumption. That is something we should be proud of, but the reality is that we are still consuming and generating a huge amount of carbon,” said Mr. Tyrer.

The current state of data center sustainability

From construction to operation, data centers create a significant carbon footprint, with manufacturers and subsuppliers contributing to the emissions.

“One of the things that did surprise us is the lower percentage that actually had a true end to end belts and braces sustainability program involving design, build, and operation. Those that do have a program are on the front foot and have most definitely got a competitive advantage,” said Mr. Tyrer.

One of the biggest consumers of electricity in the data center is the cooling equipment to keep servers running at an optimum temperature. This is an area that Schneider Electric spends time in driving more efficient design and designing effective technology to either increase temperatures in the data center or reduce the amount of cooling needed in the facility.

“We have some very strong sustainability commitments that have been made publicly available. We precise these commitments very openly on our website where anyone can see all the initiatives we are taking and our progression against those stated goals,” said Mr. Tyrer.

With a commitment to reduce absolute scope one and two emissions by 100% and scope three by 35% by 2030, Schneider Electric also helps those in the data center industry by consulting with clients on setting up sustainability charters and programs, energy procurement and data center optimisation to make sure their facilities run as efficiently as possible.

“I talk to a lot of different operators and most of them acknowledge the need for sustainability. A significant portion can really articulate what they’re doing about it. But some quite frankly are quite a way behind and will need to catch up,” said Mr. Tyrer.

For those that are behind, this could be for a number of reasons, including moving at breakneck speed to make a name in the market, and a lack of personnel and resources.

In Asia, Mr. Tyrer identified pockets of explosive growth in secondary data center markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam where businesses are moving in at speed. This poses an additional challenge in adopting sustainable practices, as there may not be regulations, skilled workforces, resources, incentives or access to renewable resources.

“To really put in place a comprehensive sustainability program, it’s not something you just scratch out on the back of a notepad. It does require a lot of thought and consideration as to what you’re looking to do and why you’re looking to do it,” added Mr. Tyrer.

Large juggernauts in the data center industry like Google, Facebook and Microsoft along with Princeton Digital Group, SpaceDC, Keppel Data Centres and the National University of Singapore have all made moves to explore environmentally-friendly solutions and commit to sustainability goals, which can act as a catalyst for those in the industry that are falling behind to follow their lead and catch up.

“For those that are not taking sustainability seriously, I’d say they are being very short-sighted, because they could be incredibly busy building some very nice data centers and a very nice company, but it is going to run out of runway further down the line when this is no longer optional or nice to have. I’d say we are almost moving out of that mode today,” warned Mr. Tyrer.

To help these smaller organisations to make moves towards sustainability initiatives, Mr. Tyrer advises that the wider ecosystem of consultants, vendors and larger data center operators needs to step up and help them drive sustainability into the future.

“It’s a community that is an ecosystem that’s going to make this puzzle work, not just one or two individuals,” said Mr. Tyrer.

To this end, Schneider Electric created the Neo Network, a community of sustainability experts to advance reliable and cost-effective renewable energy solutions around the world.

What’s driving data center sustainability into the future?

In Schneider Electric’s recent report, cost savings was, in fact, not a primary driver of sustainability initiatives. Instead, it was customer requirements that have the strongest influence on the importance of sustainability initiatives, followed by long-term operational resiliency and public opinion.

“Colocation providers are an essential part of the scope three emissions of their clients, who have got very strict and ambitious sustainability goals, which the colocation provider has to respond to. Ultimately their clients are forcing them in that direction,” said Mr. Tyrer.

For resiliency, this relates to the long-term viability of data center assets by responding to legislation and adapting to changing climatic conditions in an era of extreme weather-related events, which could lead to major utility outages of energy and water. More than half of respondents are even reevaluating the selection of their technology based on changing climates.

To illustrate the importance of implementing sustainability direction sooner rather than later, Mr. Tyrer used the analogy of a carpenter who constantly keeps sawing away without taking the time to sharpen the saw. Eventually that saw will become blunter and totally ineffective.

Similar to the carpenter, the data center industry needs to do a reality check and embed sustainability in their operations before they become unstuck in the future when customers will choose not to work with an unsustainable facility.

However, Mr. Tyrer recognised that it is unrealistic and unfair to expect the whole data center industry to become fully compliant with carbon neutrality by a certain date, as many operators like retail colocation facilities deal with different clients, changing requirements and different IT loads, and different sawing equipment to use the analogy, making it more difficult to stick to a sustainability plan.

“It’s most definitely not an easy task, because most operators have existing fleets of data centers that they’ve built years ago, or they’ve got assets that they’ve acquired. It’s about setting a realistic goal – it’s not about putting these nice figures out there and saying this is where we’re going to be in 30 years time and forgetting about it,” said Mr. Tyrer.

“But, I come back to the point: make sure you take that saw out to sharpen it before you put it back in,” he advised.

What are the solutions?

Schneider Electric and 451 Research’s report revealed the top focus areas for sustainability improvement include optimising and upgrading power distribution, and optimising and upgrading data center cooling efficiency and infrastructure.

Half of respondents said their firm has adopted data center infrastructure management software to collect, normalise, monitor and analyse data for running an efficient data center, while 45% have an energy and sustainability platform in place. These tools are believed to to be essential in extending and optimising the lifecycle of a data centre facility, as well as predicting and monitoring system operations and resource efficiency.

“Management platforms are really helping the clients to optimise their data centers, and stop them doing unnecessary things in their data centers, which requires manpower and intervention, and this is where we are moving into machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said Mr. Tyrer.

Yet, 44% of respondents still do not generate reports to track metrics.

“If you haven’t already, get the monitoring system in place to extract the comprehension of how that data center is performing,” suggested Mr. Tyrer.

Once a monitoring system is in place, operators can begin a full audit on the performance of a data center. After that, an operator can identify any equipment or power trains that need upgrading, as well as the all-important operational aspects that can be highlighted for improvement.

Schneider Electric has a long tenure of providing the mechanical, electrical and automation solutions in data centers, from predictive management tools to their EcoStruxure for small and large data centers.

“The wrapper for all of that is the investment we’ve made in our energy and sustainability services practice. We have deployed over 2,100 engineers and consultants within our group that are talking to organisations in multiple segments,” said Mr. Tyrer.

But what about the cost it takes to implement these sustainable solutions? Of course, there will be a cost to enact a program and ensure a sustainable fleet of data centers.

“I think the biggest cost to organisations who are all working on long term business plans, the opportunity cost of not implementing sustainable solutions is far higher, because that asset will become obsolete far sooner than they would have originally planned,” Mr. Tyrer informed.

In total, Schneider Electric has secured energy contracts worth over US$30 billion to date and manage 128 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year.

“We’re all on this journey and we’re all learning together. We can pass not just our technology and equipment over to our clients, but that advice and knowledge we’ve gained over many a year,” said Mr. Tyrer.

What does the future hold for data center sustainability?

In an ideal world, the data center industry could reach a proud moment where carbon neutrality is achieved across scope one, two and three emissions.

“We are a long way from that, but I think that should be our noble goal that we are absolutely working towards,” said Mr. Tyrer.

To achieve this, the data center and IT industries could be a facilitator for a number of sustainability goals made by nations and businesses across the world through innovating automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that can be woven into multiple parts of the fabric of society.

“Whether that is the new smart grids, the data center industry and the wider IT industry is going to have to come up with a lot of the solutions that actually can enable that to happen. We’ve got a key part to play in the journey that countries are making and will be making over the coming years as they become more sustainable,” suggested Mr. Tyrer.

And with the increasing amount of electricity consumed by data centers, Mr. Tyrer envisions a future where the industry can procure renewable energy and generate new power for smaller businesses and other industries.

“If we’re just gobbling up the existing energy supply, what does that lead for the other industries? I think we’ve got a responsibility if we are using renewable energy as a source of reducing our carbon reductions, we need to think bigger and broader than just beyond our own requirements,” said Mr. Tyrer.

But there are a number of factors that could derail this future, including nations and governments being driven by economic prosperity.

“The pandemic is a great example of where governments could deprioritise the Paris Climate Agreement because it’s just not affordable. They may suffer as a nation, and may slow down their pace,” observed Mr. Tyrer.

So, to reach this ideal future, research and development needs to be invested in, whilst learning from entrepreneurial organisations that are already trailblazing the sustainability path.

“I’m the eternal optimist, I’d like to think we’re on the track and we’ll get there,” said Mr. Tyrer.

Serious commitments need to be made to reach a sustainable future we can be proud of, and encouragingly, Schneider Electric and 451 Research’s report shows the growing appetite to achieve this.

The ‘Multi-tenant data centres and sustainability: ambitions and reality’ report surveyed more than 800 data center service providers from the United States, China, India, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Demark, and more.

Companies ranged in size from 10 to over 10,000+ employees, and with data center capacity from under 1 MW to more than 150 MW.

The intention of the research was to drill down and understand the reality and pervasiveness of sustainability for the data center industry, with the results showing very consistent findings across all regions: sustainability is no longer an option.

> Read more from Schneider Electric’s report

By Stuart Crowley, Editor, W.Media

Mitsubishi to build 1,400 MW power plant in Thailand

Japan’s Mitsubishi Power has signed a 25-year, full turnkey contract with Thailand’s Hin Kong Power to construct a 1,400 MW power plant.

A subsidiary of Japan’s famous Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Power will provide two gas turbines for Kin Hong’s power plant, which is a natural gas-fired turbine combined cycle (GTCC) facility.

This agreement will be of immense benefit to Thailand. As an emerging tech market, the construction of power plants means more electricity generated, and more electricity means more capacity to power a wide array of technology solutions.

Kin Hong’s power plant will be built approximately 100 kilometres west of Thailand’s capital city Bangkok. As a GTCC facility, the power plant will generate the cleanest and most efficient source of energy among systems that use fossil fuels. 

The plant will also reuse excess gas from the turbines to drive the steam turbine, producing electricity in the process. So, compared to conventional coal-fired thermal power plants, CO2 emissions can be reduced by 70%, providing an annual reduction of seven million tonnes of CO2 from the 1,400 MW of generating capacity.

The power generated will then be sold directly to the state’s Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Commercial operations of both gas turbines are projected to begin in March 2024 and January 2025 respectively. Mitsubishi Power will also provide maintenance support for the gas turbines for the next 25 years.

This is not the only time Mitsubishi Power has worked with Hin Kong Power’s parent company RATCH Group and Gulf Energy Development, two major independent power producers in Thailand. 

Including this project, Mitsubishi Power will have supplied a total of 22 gas turbines for the two companies, totalling over 15,000 MW of power generation capacity. The track record established between Mitsubishi Power and these two companies led to this current contract.

Thailand is one of few Southeast Asian nations that show strong growth potential in data center and cloud industries. In September, it was predicted that the cloud computing industry will create 24,000 new jobs in the country by 2024.

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Explore the state of Thailand’s cloud and data center market with W.Media

With 61% of Thailand’s gross domestic product expected to be digitalised by 2022, join the W.Media Thailand Cloud and Datacenter Digital Summit to find out how you can be a part of the country’s digital future by maximising opportunities amid the technological advancements taking place.

Register now to find out by joining W.Media’s action-packed Thailand Cloud & Datacenter Digital Summit on Wednesday 4 November!

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NTT looks to the cloud to digitally transform businesses in Thailand

NTT has announced its business direction to deliver cloud services to help businesses in Thailand accelerate their digital transformation.

The global technology services provider will implement its Digital Solution, Managed Service, and Intelligent Cybersecurity as part of its key strategy to penetrate the Thailand market along with a new Client Experience Center to showcase their innovations from across the world.

“It’s now a crucial time for digital transformation and we see that technology is a crucial part to help businesses achieve the goal, differentiate themselves from competitors, and develop in-depth information to generate higher incomes and profits,” said Sutas Kongdumrongkiat, the CEO for NTT in Thailand.

NTT predicts the cloud market in Thailand shows high potential, as demand and growth continues in the country, giving the country the opportunity to leapfrog more mature economies due to improvements in connectivity and data center risk.

“We think from now on, the use of the cloud in Thailand will grow higher. And it is expected that the total market value of the cloud in Thailand will continue to grow,” added Mr. Kongdumrongkiat.

And NTT might be right as the Government approved a US$146.6 million state cloud, AWS has expanded their services in the country and cloud computing may generate more than 24,000 jobs in Thailand.

The solutions NTT will aim to provide Thailand with data center interconnectivity across the world through their SD-WAN solution, a cloud system to ensure stable and fast connections and a cybersecurity system to remain safe from cyberthreats and compliant in protecting data.

NTT’s new 393 square meter Client Experience Center located on 17th Floor, Column Tower in Bangkok will also showcase innovations, including advanced digital technology used in the Tour de France, a Robotic Process Automation system, and Realwear – the wearable voice operated Android computer.

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Is cloud hosting right for your business?

Hosting websites and applications on the cloud is becoming a popular choice for businesses, as it is believed to offer greater flexibility and speed in scalability as well as reliable uptime to keep your services live even if a server goes down.

But is it right for your business? Register now and join industry experts and peers for our Inside Asia digital event to get the answers!

Get involved in the conversation and connect with your peers on LinkedIn and Facebook using #WMediaEvent!

> View all W.Media digital events

NTT looks to the cloud to digitally transform businesses in Thailand

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Vietnam’s TPBank says goodbye to legacy technology to become digital-first with Backbase

Vietnam’s Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) has joined forces to accelerate their digital transformation and say goodbye to their legacy banking systems with the help of Backbase.

Backbase, a Netherlands-based digital banking software provider, transitioned TPBank to an omni-channel digital platform, enabling agility and scalability for the next generation of digital banking where a cashless society could be made possible.

“Technology is the critical driver in transforming our bank and ensuring we stay ahead of the competition in the next digital banking revolution,” said Nguyen Hung, the CEO of TPBank.

The birth of a digital bank in nine months

The bank transformed its decade-old mobile and Internet banking system in nine months, migrating nearly three million customers to the new platform.

“Now more so than ever, banks need to respond swiftly to greater customer expectations while implementing digital transformation with minimal disruptions to remain competitive in the current marketplace,” said Riddhi Dutta, the Regional Head for ASEAN and India at Backbase.

Backbase’s digital banking architecture runs either on-premise, in a Platform-as-a-Service setup or fully cloud native.

“Legacy channels and outdated core systems are cumbersome and one of the factors which hinders banks from scaling at a pace that keeps up with evolving customer demands,” added Mr. Dutta.

Thanks to their work with Backbase, TPBank saw success in its digital transformation efforts by being recognised as the ‘Best Digital Bank’ at the The Asian Banker Vietnam Country Awards 2020.

Elsewhere in the banking industry, India’s largest bank introduced digitally transformed their payment system to 440 million customers using ACI architecture and DBS Bank in Singapore joined forces with AWS to digitally transform 3,000 staff with AI training.

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Image credit: TPBank

Is cloud hosting right for your business?

Hosting websites and applications on the cloud is becoming a popular choice for businesses, as it is believed to offer greater flexibility and speed in scalability as well as reliable uptime to keep your services live even if a server goes down.

But is it right for your business? Register now and join industry experts and peers for our Inside Asia digital event to get the answers!

Get involved in the conversation and connect with your peers on LinkedIn and Facebook using #WMediaEvent!

> View all W.Media digital events

India’s largest bank introduces digitally transformed payment system to 440 million customers using ACI architecture

India’s largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) has introduced a new payment system to its 440 million customers.

The bank adopted ACI Worldwide’s open service-oriented, cloud-based architecture to enable SBI’s network of over 58,000 ATMs in acquiring Visa, Mastercard and RuPay cards. 

On top of that, ATM networks can now manage ATM and point-of-sale authorisations.

“Size need not restrict adaptability and agility, which will be critical to meeting more than 440 million customers’ needs in the years ahead while staying ahead of security and regulatory requirements,” said Kaushik Roy, the Vice President and South Asia Country Leader of ACI Worldwide.

With 22,000 branches in India and a presence in 32 countries around the world, one would expect the migration process to be challenging, but Dhananjay Tambe, the Deputy Managing Director and CIO for the State Bank of India said it was seamless with minimised risk, downtime and impact for customers.

The SBI sees over 30 million transactions per day. Such an upgrade would thus enable the processing of higher transaction volumes.

To achieve this, ACI collaborated closely with SBI, implementing code consolidation and technology upgrades using public cloud or through ACI’s private cloud.

In addition to payment infrastructure upgrades, SBI will also be mitigating fraud and tightening its payment protection with ACI’s fraud management solution for debit cards, mobile banking, internet banking, pre-paid and UPI payments.

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What does the future hold for India’s data center market?

The need for data centers in India is growing exponentially, as data consumption by half a billion digital users is reaching unprecedented levels.

But how can you tap into this exciting market? And what is the best practice for data center operators and cloud service providers in the country?

Stay tuned for more fascinating webinars taking a deep dive into the data center and cloud markets in India!

Get involved in the conversation and connect with your peers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter using #WMediaEvent!

> View all W.Media digital events

NTT helps 1,000 employees at Indonesia’s WOM Finance move to the cloud with Google’s G Suite

Indonesia’s Wahana Ottomitra Multiartha (WOM Finance) has successfully migrated to Google’s cloud-native platform G Suites with the help of NTT.

The global technology services provider NTT helped more than 1,000 employees at the Jakarta-based financial services provider move from their legacy mail server to G Suite within a month to accelerate their access to intelligent cloud-based apps. This signals the company’s commitment to implementing digital transformation in the workplace. 

“By going digital, we can make faster decisions in a safe and secure manner that will translate into better customer experience,” said Anthony Y. Panggabean, Director of WOM Finance.

Prior to the transition, WOM Finance’s daily operations were restricted by a mail server that was unable to handle scaling up to meet growing business demands. The lack of a centralised communications platform also meant that correspondence between employees were carried out independently “without explicit IT department approval”.

With Google G Suites being introduced to the workplace, WOM Finance’s business activities are now condensed in a single platform. 

Felix Priscellius, IT Division Head for WOM Finance, said they have experienced cost savings, less downtime and greater security, enabling them to scale up as quickly as the business grows.

In a time where remote and mobile-first working environments are more common than ever, WOM Finance’s digital transformation is a prime example of how cloud-based technologies are being adopted at a rapid pace with the help of cloud-based experts.

“We are truly excited about empowering WOM Finance on their workplace transformation journey to discover more dynamic ways to collaborate securely,” said Hendra Lesmana, the CEO for NTT Indonesia Solutions.

NTT has made many strides this year to expand their digital footprint and strengthen their cloud strategies through partnerships with Megaport and Microsoft.

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Explore the latest for cloud and data centers in Indonesia

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Is India ready for a hybrid cloud future?

Multinational tech company IBM published its September report on hybrid cloud market in India, revealing that the country’s businesses are ready to embrace hybrid cloud driven growth. 

IBM projects that spending on cloud systems in India will increase by 49% in 2023. But currently only 20% of organisations have moved their workloads to the cloud, despite 90% of global companies adopting a form of the technology.

What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is essentially a combination of public cloud and private cloud systems, allowing data to be shared between them. Using a hybrid cloud system accelerates key business operations by harnessing data for improved decision making, enhanced process automation and higher cost efficiency.

IBM estimates that the value derived from using a full hybrid and multicloud platform delivers 2.5 times more than a single platform and vendor approach, but only 29% of businesses in India take advantage of a multicloud strategy.

While businesses in India still fall behind in hybrid cloud adoption compared to international standards, the tech giant’s report predicts the size of the Indian market will come to prove in time the importance of turning to cloud management platforms for increased governance and efficiency.

One of the biggest challenges of digitally transforming operations is achieving buy-in from stakeholders and ensuring employees have ample skills to transition to the new technology. But IBM found that 51% of respondents in India understand the business and IT benefits of switching to a multicloud strategy, which might explain why a predicted average of six hybrid cloud platforms will be used by businesses in India by 2023.

Who’s adopting hybrid cloud?

Top companies in India, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Godrej Group and even Century Cement are leading the transformation to hybrid cloud. 

Airtel, one of India’s largest telecommunication services, is currently building a new network cloud to maximise capacity and minimise capital expenses by onboarding services faster with seamless integration with current systems. 

Vodafone Idea’s new hybrid cloud platform allows the company to deliver core network functions and implement edge computing technologies for its 300 million telecommunication subscribers at a breakthrough speed.

Indian conglomerate, Godrej Group, leveraged hybrid multicloud solutions to build a future-ready IT infrastructure, resulting in a 10% reduction of total cost of ownership and 100% increase in disaster recovery coverage.

Even cement shipping company Century Cement adopted cloud technology to connect their electronic billing processes with government systems, saving 60% more time on paperless processing and management as well as reduced operating costs.

What’s next for hybrid cloud?

The next chapter of the cloud is expected to see a shift of core business operations, optimising everything from supply chains to sales, with more investment in hybrid multicloud platforms on the way.

IBM’s advice to Indian businesses consists of five steps. First, businesses should strategise by understanding how digitally transforming to the cloud aligns with their wider operating models.

Next, the task is to design your transformation journey by understanding and coordinating the different cloud platforms available, including public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT environments.

Third, is the matter of moving to a hybrid cloud platform. IBM recommends using containers and unified open platforms to decouple the rate and pace of transformation from specific deployment models or constraints.

After the much anticipated move, it’s time to build a multicloud orchestration platform used to control costs, address security concerns and skill gaps in an organisation. It is important during the build phase to combine data and applications when building multicloud solutions.

Finally, once you have your solutions, it is important for your business to constantly manage and assess the platform with regard to cost, optimisation and regulations.

To achieve a competitive advantage, businesses have to start prioritising operations that can be moved to cloud, then migrate said skills and optimise continuously.

Aligning businesses activities with cloud platforms is the business model of the near future. Indian firms have the drive to prepare for the transition, and should do so in order to keep up with a global market reshaped by COVID-19.

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What does the future hold for India’s data center market?

The need for data centers in India is growing exponentially, as data consumption by half a billion digital users is reaching unprecedented levels.

But how can you tap into this exciting market? And what is the best practice for data center operators and cloud service providers in the country?

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Singapore University of Social Sciences moves to the cloud with Ellucian and Fujitsu Asia

Teaching the next generation of students in a digitally connected world is giving rise to the technological transformation of educational institutions, including the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) who has decided to move to the cloud with the help of Ellucian and Fujitsu Asia.

As the University continues to grow locally and regionally in Southeast Asia, SUSS will adopt Ellucian Banner Cloud, a powerful Enterprise Resource Planning solution designed for higher education.

“Our priority continues to deliver student-centered learning experiences that will empower our graduates to be purposeful global citizens and serve society,” said Gary Teo, the Director of Campus IT Services at Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Digital transformation is at the core of SUSS’ mission to deliver world-class student experiences and operational excellence.

“The cloud can serve as a force multiplier to achieve the goals of today’s educational institutions, improving institutional productivity while mitigating potential data risks from academic processes,” said Uno Motohiko, the President of Fujitsu Asia.

The Ellucian Banner Cloud enables SUSS to securely manage all human resources, finance, and student information processes as well as gaining stronger data-driven insights.

“We are thrilled to welcome SUSS as our first customer in Singapore and look forward to supporting their journey to the cloud,” said Darren Hunt, Ellucian’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director EMEA and APAC.

Before moving to the cloud, SUSS relied on homegrown, on-premise platforms, requiring significant administrative and IT overhead to maintain.

“Across the board, institutions are simply outgrowing their homegrown solutions,” said Ellucian President and CEO, Laura Ipsen.

To ensure a seamless transition, Fujitsu localised the Ellucian Banner Cloud solution to meet the needs of SUSS by integrating backend systems with local government agency services applications and implementing Application Managed Services by Fujitsu’s IT specialists in student management systems to relieve the University of the burden to manage the cloud solution.

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Explore the latest for cloud and data centers in Singapore

Singapore has one of the most dominant tech industries in Asia, with advancements happening almost daily.

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Delta develops cutting-edge networking solutions for the next generation of data centers with Microsoft and COBO

Delta, a global leader in power and thermal management solutions, has partnered with Microsoft and Consortium for On Board Optics (COBO) to launch a proof of concept open networking switch for the next generation of data center infrastructures.

The switch is said to provide leading transmission speeds and energy efficiency as we enter the nascent 5G era, offering up to 800 gigabytes per second of transmission speed, 12.8Tbps bandwidth capacity, and up to 30% energy savings compared to similar peer technologies.

Powering the future of data centers

As cloud adoption continues to rise, increasing the need for hyperscale and cloud data centers, these facilities will need the support of networking systems that provide faster transmission speeds and lower carbon footprints.

As a result, member-driven organisations like COBO are racing to develop solutions that meet essential data center requirements.

Microsoft’s Principal Network Architect and COBO’s President, Brad Booth, said: “Being capable of integrating COBO and other form factors into a single platform has been an integral contribution to this POC project to enable end users to perform hands-on evaluation and testing.”

The open networking switch integrates five different optical module form factors into a single, compact 4U rack. The system also includes two 400G QSFP-DD, two 400G OSFP and sixty-four 100G QSFP ports as well as Intel’s 8-core 2.0 GHz D-1548 Broadwell high-performance chip, which sits at the core of Delta’s switch.

“We look forward to cooperating with Microsoft and COBO to accelerate the growth of the 5G mega trend with this inventive technology,” said Victor Cheng, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Information & Communications Technology Business Group at Delta.

On top of being a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Azure Cloud Solution Provider, Delta launched a 5G smart manufacturing solution with the tech giant in June.

Earlier this year, Delta also celebrated receiving an Uptime Institute’s TIER III-Ready certification for their Point of Delivery data center solution, which recognises its ability to deliver resilience and reliability for their data center.

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Discover how to tap into the edge data center market with W.Media

Edge data centers are on the rise, driven by Industry 4.0 technology and Internet adoption. But which edge data center solutions are right for your business?

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Indosat Ooredoo innovates to support Indonesia during pandemic

A few months ago, Indonesia became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia.

As the Government continues to battle the pandemic, one of the country’s main telecommunications companies, Indosat Ooredoo, prioritised innovating hybrid cloud products and upgrading Internet bandwidth to put Indonesia back in motion even during lockdown.

As Indonesia began to adapt to new habits during the ‘new normal’, Indosat Ooredoo took a supportive role to accelerate technologies, including big data, smart cities and video conferencing to resurrect Indonesia’s economy.

Back to School for Indonesia

To support the Indonesian government’s Distance Learning (PJJ) program, the telco upgraded its existing bandwidth activity by 20% to provide 56 universities better access to intellectual property from more than 200 tertiary institutions in Indonesia.

“Indosat Ooredoo decided to make a contribution in developing our nation through education. We are committed to supporting the government to strengthen the ecosystem of online learning,” said Director & Chief Operating Officer Indosat Ooredoo, Vikram Sinha.

The telco introduced a series of mobile packages to primary school, high school and university students, with a main package offering 30GB of data for a single Indonesian Rupiah, which converts to an astounding US$0.000068.

The Director General of Higher Education, Professor Nizam, thanked Indosat Ooredoo for their contribution to Indonesia’s education sector: “We highly appreciate the concern and the effort Indosat Ooredoo has taken to help college students by providing affordable internet packages.”

With these affordable data packages, it is almost certain that data consumption will continue to rise in the country, requiring reliable digital infrastructures to manage this. To support this demand, tech giants and data center players like Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, SpaceDC and NTT are making moves into the country.

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Is cloud hosting right for your business?

Hosting websites and applications on the cloud is becoming a popular choice for businesses, as it is believed to offer greater flexibility and speed in scalability as well as reliable uptime to keep your services live even if a server goes down.

But is it right for your business? Register now and join industry experts and peers for our Inside Asia digital event to get the answers!

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Vietnam Government keeps pushing forward digital transformation with Viettel and FPT partnerships

The Vietnam Government continues to push forward with their digital transformation efforts, empowered by partnerships with Viettel and FPT.

As part of their Made-in-Vietnam initiatives, the military-run telecoms group launched an artificial intelligence platform known as the Viettel AI Open Platform.

The platform will provide technologies and organisations using AI with help to automate, optimise and efficiently operate, focusing on areas like speech processing, natural language processing and computer vision.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Nguyen Thanh Hung, described the Industry 4.0 technology as the heart of digital transformation, which is fundamentally changing production around the world.

Nguyen Manh Quy, the Director of Viettel Cyberspace Centre, announced the platform will be free for individuals and businesses that registered during its application development phase to strengthen research cooperation and boost the national digital transformation programme.

Speeding up digital transformation with homegrown blockchain

Early last month, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications also launched akaChain, an enterprise blockchain platform developed by FPT Software, a leading IT firm in the country.

The platform is one of few Made-in-Vietnam initiatives hand-picked by the Government to accelerate their digital transformation efforts in the public and private sectors.

“As COVID-19 looms large, it is more important than ever to take their business online,” said Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung.

Despite the common association with cryptocurrency, akaChain platform is expected to help businesses speed up their transformation processes through blockchain applications like electronic Know Your Customer, credit scoring, loyalty programs and traceability.

“From retail, supply chain, to financial services, blockchain applications have moved beyond cryptocurrencies,” said Tran Dang Hoa, FPT Software’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Establised in 2018, the platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric, which acts as the foundation for developing applications with transparency and ease – a demand of digital businesses requiring speed to market.

“We are excited to be part of the national digital transformation program and help the Vietnamese Government to build early foundations for a digital economy, digital society, and e-Government,” Mr. Tran added.

FPT Software is now working on another solution to develop Digital IDs based on the akaChain platform to enable easier and faster ways to prove one’s identity, which is becoming increasingly important for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Uncover the importance of interconnectivity with W.Media

Interconnectivity in data centers has accelerated, as the need for connected devices and digital transformation is rapidly rising.

For a region like Asia Pacific that is rapidly going digital, data center providers are working hard to design connected platforms that enable global teams to collaborate with less downtime and latency.

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Philippines telecom market powers through in spite of COVID-19

In April, W.Media reported that due to COVID-19, the Philippines’ newest telecom company, DITO Telecommunity, was forced to delay its launch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fixed-line market in the Philippines is said to be underdeveloped with low penetration in the broadband market due to low investment in digital infrastructure and rapid development of mobile technologies. 

But today, the Philippines could still see a silver lining in spite of difficult circumstances, as interest in improving digital infrastructures and building new data centers is rising. 

Two of the largest telecom companies, PDLT and Globe Telecom, are making continual moves to upgrade existing infrastructure.

PDLT will continue to accelerate its network modernisation program, shifting from copper to fibre, and their subsidiary Smart Communications teamed up with Google to deploy Wi-Fi hubs across the country. 

Smart and Globe have also pledged to participate in network sharing with DITO, signalling a willingness to speed up network rollouts like 5G and break up the long-standing duopoly held by PDLT and Globe.

DITO’s entrance to the Filipino market held similar ambitions, which is why it is also predicted that market competition in the country is expected to intensify from 2021, less than four months away.

In other exciting news, a new subsea cable, JUPITER, that links the Philippines with Japan and the U.S. has gained approval from the U.S. government and will be completed by 2021.

However, the pandemic crisis has left its mark on the telecom industry, with supply chains halted and job cuts slowing down construction of infrastructures, postponing the rollout of 5G and halting consumer demand for services. 

As to how Filipino consumers would respond to market competition, a reduced but steady and positive growth is predicted. This is because COVID-19 has proven that access to general communication is crucial to live life under the ‘new normal’ where technology is needed to support home-working.

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Uncover the importance of interconnectivity with W.Media

Interconnectivity in data centers has accelerated, as the need for connected devices and digital transformation is rapidly rising.

For a region like Asia Pacific that is rapidly going digital, data center providers are working hard to design connected platforms that enable global teams to collaborate with less downtime and latency.

Register now for our ‘Interconnecting into the Future’ digital event to discover how interconnectivity can help you reach your digital transformation desires.

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India’s Tech Mahindra disrupts digital transformation with new Intelligent Cloud platform

Tech Mahindra, a leading digital transformation service provider in India, announced the launch of a new intelligent cloud operations and subscription management platform.

iCOPS aims to improve corporate efficiency by leveraging artificial intelligence for IT operations and analytics with data security and cost optimisation, simplifying existing cloud operations for global enterprises.

Vivek Gupta, Vice President and Head of Global Cloud Services at Tech Mahindra, said iCOPS will ‘help global enterprises move towards a zero-touch cloud operations model while ensuring complete security and transparency in operations’.

The iCOPS platform will be merged with Tech Mahindra’s existing infrastructure operations platform TACTiX,  NetOps.ai and mPAC 3.0, a hybrid and multi-cloud management platform. This combination demonstrates the company’s commitment in creating a centralised IT system to improve business efficiency.

iCOPS will have four key focus areas: tech optimisation (‘TechOps’) to enable zero downtime, security optimisation (‘SecOps’) for zero vulnerability, development optimisation (‘DevOps’) for Zero manual interventions and finance optimisation (‘FinOps’), enabling continuous cost management. 

All four areas aim to streamline diverse cloud operations and reduce spending via said streamlining.

Besides cloud computing, Tech Mahindra is also focused on developing next-generation technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity to disrupt and enable digital transformation.

This comes at a time when India is making rapid advances in becoming a digital society, as tech giants and global players in the scene are entering the country to be a part of a US$4.9 billion opportunity, including Schneider Electric, Equinix, NTT and Legrand Data Center Solutions.

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What does the future hold for India’s data center market?

The need for data centers in India is growing exponentially, as data consumption by half a billion digital users is reaching unprecedented levels.

But how can you tap into this exciting market? And what is the best practice for data center operators and cloud service providers in the country?

Stay tuned for more fascinating webinars taking a deep dive into the data center and cloud markets in India!

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South Korea’s Data Dam project to fuel digital economy through new cloud flagships and advanced data centers

In the midst of another COVID-19 surge, the South Korean Government kicked off the national ‘Data Dam’ project to help the country’s digital economy adapt to a post-pandemic world.

Shared through 5G networks, the project will collect and process information from public and private sectors to create useful data and stimulate new technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Overcoming great depressions

The Data Dam, named after the Hoover Dam that helped the United States overcome the Great Depression, will target seven key business areas for support.

Elementary, middle and high school students in South Korea endured a rocky learning experience for most of 2020 due to the pandemic, switching back and forth between on-campus learning to online classes. Seeing the unfortunate effects on students’ wellbeing, the education sector will be a core focus of Data Dam.

Under the project, content materials for online courses will be expanded and digitised. The overall education infrastructure will be improved to create an offline/online integrated learning environment.

“Initially, it was expected that the latest project could create some 24,000 jobs, but companies that picked for the educational AI project alone said they need to hire at least 28,000, which will push up the overall employment figures”, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

The educational AI initiative is considered a centerpiece of the Data Dam project, with an anticipated 1,250 projects to be developed, thousands of jobs created and US$240 million allocated to make it happen.

On top of this, the project will focus on boosting the digital economy through the creation of cloud flagships and building big data platforms and setting up advanced data centers.

A total of 4,739 companies and institutions have forwarded ideas to implement the data, with 2,100 projects being supported in the first year alone.

The Data Dam will be rolled out as part of the Government’s Digital New Deal plan announced in July.

Inside the Digital New Deal

Technology has helped South Korea effectively combat the pandemic, and now President Moon Jae-In’s government wants to further develop it to benefit the rest of the country through the Digital New Deal.

The Digital New Deal is a five-year blueprint by the South Korean government to spearhead the country’s smooth transition into the realm of 5G and artificial intelligence. 

The Deal hopes to achieve twelve goals in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in the country, including the integration of 5G and AI into all sectors, the digitalisation of the education sector, the expansion of smart cities and improving digital access in rural and disadvantaged areas.

The Moon government will be spending an estimated US$68.6 billion by 2025 on the new deal to create almost one million jobs in the country.

To spur digital transformation and cooperation with fellow APAC countries during these unprecedented and uncertain times, Korea has also adopted a knowledge sharing initiative to emphasise the important role of data-based policies and development of digital solutions through ICT and emerging technologies.

The initiative agreed by the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group, consisting of APAC nations as well as the USA, Canada, Russia and countries in South America, will look to share best practice solutions and strengthen cooperation in the Asia Pacific region and international community to facilitate digital transition to address global challenges.

Enabled by initiatives like these, South Korea boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world as well as one of the world’s fastest internet speeds. As the government combines and refines the status of South Korea as one of the four Asian Tigers, the New Deal will look to give the country the boost it needs to remain a digital powerhouse.

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Schneider Electric to deliver innovative solutions for hyperscale data centers after expanding partnership with AVEVA

Innovative solutions are coming for hyperscale data centers after Schneider Electric and AVEVA expanded their partnership.

Announcements to develop hyperscale data centers is a frequent occurrence to meet worldwide demand for more data capacity and cloud adoption. But the complexity in operating at this scale and maintaining these facilities creates unprecedented challenges for hyperscale providers, which require different approaches to power the infrastructure.

This is where the new innovative solutions by Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, and AVEVA, the global leader in engineering and industrial software, will come into play.

Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice President of Energy Management at Schneider Electric, said: “At a time when the world’s digital infrastructure is being pushed to its limits, Schneider and AVEVA are delivering a comprehensive solution for hyperscale data centers to operate and maintain their critical environments.”

The solution will integrate Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure for Data Centers control and monitoring capabilities with AVEVA’s scalable industrial software to enable deep and expansive visibility of day-to-day operations.

Mr Delorme added: “The complete solution will deliver operational efficiency and a more reliable data center fleet.”

Digitally transforming legacy systems

The partnership looks to digitally transform legacy systems by connecting platforms and data sets that previously existed in disparate systems.

Craig Hayman, the CEO of AVEVA, said: “Our joint customers are empowered by the standardized systems and processes resulting in improved workforce efficiency across multiple sites and the entire enterprise.”

The solutions will achieve their aims by taking data that has long been managed at individual data centers and normalising it across multiple sites to inform and provide enterprise level IT/OT/IoT integration that delivers real-time decision making.

Ultimately, the innovations hope to empower data center staff to feel empowered in making faster and more informed decisions as well as optimising assets and operational efficiency by enabling facilities to scale regardless of number of sites or global location.

The hyperscale market is powering up, as Equinix also recently announced they would build three hyperscale data centers in Japan after the data center provider signed a US$1 billion agreement with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

Schneider Electric to deliver innovative solutions for hyperscale data centers after expanding partnership with AVEVA

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Cloud computing to create 24,000 New Jobs in Thailand by 2024

Thailand, a new and rising player in the cloud computing industry, will see more than 24,000 new jobs by 2024.

This is thanks to cloud-based software company, Salesforce, which was one of several tech firms that enjoyed tremendous success during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

A recent addition to the 2019 Salesforce Economic Impact White Paper projected US$1.6 billion in new business revenue by 2024. 

With COVID-19 forcing businesses around the world to shift to cloud services and remote working, its predictions are coming true, as one of Salesforce’s ecosystems in Thailand is feeling the positive economic impacts.

“The Salesforce ecosystem is capable of generating business and job growth, even during a pandemic,” said Sujith Abraham, the SVP and General Manager for ASEAN at Salesforce.

Spending on public cloud softwares in Thailand is expected to increase from US$299 million in 2020 to US$579 million in 2024. Assuming that this trend continues, cloud services are predicted to grow faster than general information technology, with nearly 50% of global cloud software spending tied to digital transformation.

Source: IDC white paper sponsored by Salesforce, The Salesforce Economy in Thailand: 24,260 Jobs, $1.6 Billion in New Business Revenue from 2018 to 2024 (May 2020)
Source: IDC white paper, The Salesforce Economy in Thailand. 24,260 Jobs, $1.6 Billion in New Business Revenue from 2018 to 2024 (May 2020)

On top of the 24,260 new local jobs within the Salesforce and partner ecosystem, another 33,570 indirect jobs will be created through supply and distribution chains serving Salesforce customers. This number illustrates the impressive scale of a network effect by cloud computing firms in the country.

“Because we’re all working remotely, our solution,and our partner ecosystem, answers the need for digital transformation and is essential for our customers as they continue to deepen relationships, and ready for their place, in the post-pandemic economy,” added Mr. Abraham.

Building the workforce of the future in Thailand

To make sure that Thailand continues to be on track for exponential growth, Salesforce states that there is still a lot that local business could do. Alongside increased spending on cloud computing services, introducing new products and providing more pleasant customer experiences, are two main goals that should be worked on.

First, Thailand needs to nurture a workforce that is ready to support digital transformation efforts. The World Economic Forum predicts a significant shift, with no less than 54% of all employees requiring re-skilling or up-skilling to prevent talent shortages and mass unemployment. This is especially important now that the global pandemic has fast tracked digital transformations and caused countless retrenchments. 

“The pandemic ensures cloud computing spend will increase in ASEAN and beyond. And, we know job growth in the region is dependent on a skilled workforce,” said William Sim, the VP of  Salesforce’s Trailhead Academy for APAC.

Secondly, entrepreneurs and innovators in Thailand should identify the goldmine of opportunity for inventing revolutionary cloud-based applications, as forecasts show significant returns from investment in cloud computing by 2024. Yet, only 5% of the total IT spend in Thailand will be on public cloud computing, meaning there is a wealth of opportunities for almost ‘unlimited cloud computing growth’.

If all is achieved, Thailand’s cloud computing market could propel the country into becoming a key provider of tech services in Southeast Asia.

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Malaysia to shut down 3G by 2021, but national 5G plan may be delayed until 2022

The Malaysian Government has announced a National Digital Infrastructure Plan (JENDELA) that will put an end to 3G networks in Malaysia and prepare the country for its transition to 5G.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated the decision to eliminate 3G networks is to “strengthen the coverage of 4G networks [in Malaysia], as well as establishing a solid foundation for 5G”. This will be completed stage-by-stage until the end of 2021.

The Malaysian Government has currently rolled out phase one of JENDELA. Goals to be achieved under phase one include expanding 4G broadband coverage from 91.8% to 96.9% in populated areas, and increasing broadband speed from 25Mbps to 35Mbps.

Phase two of JENDELA will focus on the East Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak, where internet coverage is significantly lower than states in West Malaysia. Under the plan, Sabah and Sarawak will be the biggest beneficiaries: existing communication towers will be upgraded and hundreds of new communication transmitters will be installed.

Shortly after the Prime Minister’s announcement, Communications and Multimedia Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, unveiled an Industrial Revolution 4.0 digital road map outlining the details of phase two. Said road map is scheduled to be released in mid-September.

However, a report by research firm CGS-CIMB revealed that 5G in Malaysia is expected to be deferred to 2022 due to ‘existing uncertainties in terms of how and over what timeframe [phase two] is to be achieved’ as well as the need to prioritise optimising speed and coverage of 4G networks.

Despite the delay, this marks the beginning of an exciting turn for Malaysia’s digital economy. Malaysia’s promise to switch off 3G and welcome 5G indicates a strong commitment to assist Malaysians in overcoming the demands of working from home in the midst of a pandemic. 

The rise of 5G in Malaysia could also mean a boom in cloud services, as applications may be more accessible by users across the country, which is only more good news to the country’s fast-growing digital economy.

5G may also enable more edge data center technologies by bringing lower latency, higher reliability and faster data processing that is closer to the user. This is particularly important, as Malaysia looks to be moving closer to the edge, with new projects announced by Bitglass, GDC and Vertiv this year.

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Supermicro and Japan’s PFN produce world’s most efficient supercomputer

As the trend towards green technologies and increasing power costs continues, Supermicro celebrated their collaboration with Preferred Networks (PFN) to build the world’s most energy efficient supercomputer.

The MN-3 supercomputer achieved the first place ranking in the Green500 semi-annual industry assessment.

“The Green500 international recognition confirms that Supermicro delivers resource-saving, superior design, and high-reliability to the market,” said Charles Liang, the CEO and President of Supermicro.

The innovator in high-efficiency server technology achieved 15% higher efficiency compared to the previous Green500 record held by RIKEN in 2018. The MN-3 reached a record of 21.11 Gigaflops of performance-per-watt, delivering a total performance of 1.62 Petaflops. This was important for engineers, as performance-per-watt determines the cost of power and the cooling requirements to keep the system running.

After an exhaustive selection process, PFN partnered with Supermicro to develop the customised server, addressing a wide range of applications that require ultra-fast communications.

“Supermicro was excited to work with PFN on this exceptional system supporting machine learning and deep learning applications and energy efficiency,” added Mr. Liang.

The PFN solution is based on the Supermicro GPU server that utilises Intel Xeon CPUs as well as MN-Core boards developed by PFN for the training phase in deep learning.

“We can deliver outstanding performance while using a fraction of the power that was previously required for such a large supercomputer,” said Yusuke Doi, the VP of Computing Infrastructure at PFN.

The MN-Core boards were created after PFN determined they needed faster and more optimised solutions since the existing accelerators were not keeping up with customer demand.

PFN Supercomputer
PFN Supercomputer

The supercomputer required out-of-the-box thinking to be able to fit two CPUs, four MN-Core boards, 6TB of DDR4 memory, multiple GPUs, and interconnects enabling ultra-fast communications between the GPUs.

Following the completion of the supercomputer, PFN and Supermicro achieved a cluster of 48 servers, four interconnect nodes and five 100GbE switches, with a total of 2,080 CPU cores and housed in a 7U high rack-mounted unit.

This efficient design will enable accelerated deep learning algorithms, empowering PFN to design new applications that address customers’ pressing requirements and Service Level Agreements at reduced operating costs.

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